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Cacophony of Collaboration Tools May Not Be Helping Productivity

What does Collaboration mean for technology today? Nothing, but what does technology mean for Collaboration, now that is the question. It seems like every day we hear that we have more choices than ever before to communicate, but somewhere along the way we gave up on the dream of Unified Communications, and just moved on to Collaboration. But what does that mean, really?

by Dan Stephens, Director, Collaboration, Presidio, Tuesday, 4 Sep 2018

Let’s look back, say 10 years ago, the iPhone was barely a year old. Bandwidth was still “limited”, texting, email, the phone and voicemail were the ways we communicated. Some people still sent letters and resumes in the mail on paper and people were just starting to trust the internet as a storefront. When a company invested in a phone system, they would either buy a PBX (Private Branch eXchange) from Avaya, Mitel or Cisco or they would purchase Centrex from a carrier which was hosted, managed and controlled by the carrier. Blackberry was the PIM (personal information manager) of choice which combined voice and email. The goal was to Unify the communications that people wanted to use while maintaining business quality voice communications and availability.

In the years between then and now, the number of advancements in how we communicate has been astounding. We not only have unlimited bandwidth but we have unlimited bandwidth on our cellphones wirelessly. Video was only by Executives and Generals but is now also available to 3-year olds via facetime. Texting has turned into presence laden applications that can share content, images, movies, desktops for troubleshooting and escalate into team meetings and phone calls. Documents can be shared and co-edited while on a video enabled white board, and if any of this fails I can use my cell phone and have a good enough quality audio / video or content call. We have so many choices to collaborate that we have an entirely new spin on a very old problem. We are creating islands of communications that are cross connected by rivers of necessity.

The industry’s solution long, long ago was ISO’s OSI (International Standards Organization Open Systems Interconnection) model. Instead of dealing with how do I break up the “device to device” communications stack, for example when a company like Novell wanted devices to talk to IBM instead of having to write the code from the lowest level (physical connections) to the highest level (the application), it could just write the code for its part of the model and the layer above would abstract the rest of the connectivity to all the higher layers for quicker integration between systems. The problem now is that most of the issues are in layer 7 (the application layer), more accurately they are in layer 8 (the user).

Many free or nearly so applications exist with overlapping features, which makes it difficult for corporate IT departments to know what software investments to make and what applications their end-users are using. This creates problems range from data protection to productivity loss. Data protection problems are due to malware and security breaches. Productivity loss issues are created because of the use of differing systems and the necessity to build workflows to compensate for the lack of integration between applications that different department use. How does the business, then also work with vendors, partners and customers?

Collaboration is defined as the action of working with someone to produce or create something. We can now achieve Collaboration in so many ways that many companies are beginning to struggle with productivity loss and artificial barriers created by using so many different tools.

The problem can be solved by addressing the issue at layer 8 and getting out of the business of starting with a technology first approach. The user has all the technology they can dream of today in their personal and professional lives. No one tool may really do what each user wants to do in order to collaborate but combined they make it work. At this point in time, we recommend the company to take a step back and talk to the user community. Oh yes, you read that correctly, talk to the users and not about the tools but about the outcomes.  “What do you do on a daily basis, how do you do that, if you could do it anyway you want then what would that look like?” These are sample questions to start the process, the process of adoption.

Collaborate with them on what you heard them say, build a plan to help the users adopt the right tools and stick to it! If you need help Presidio has built its Illuminate: EXCITE offer to facilitate this type of communication to build a better Collaboration system, by understanding how your users communicate, what their process currently is and how best to use what the organization has already invested in to meet business needs. Identify how to help them increase productivity, generate cost savings or revenue growth as examples. Then build the plans to achieve and validate results.

Presidio is here to help.


Presidio
Presidio is a leading North American IT solutions provider focused on Digital Infrastructure, Cloud and Security solutions. We deliver this technology expertise through a full life cycle model of professional, managed, and support services including strategy, consulting, implementation and design. By taking the time to deeply understand how our clients define success, we help them harness technology advances, simplify IT complexity and optimize their environments today while enabling future applications, user experiences, and revenue models.
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